Wokingham council has been taken to task over the disproportionate number of exclusions for Black and Mixed-Race children compared to White children in the area’s schools.

The issue was raised by Shirley Boyt, a Labour councillor, who pressed the Wokingham Borough Council’s Children’s Services executive member on the issue.

Cllr Boyt said: “In March this year, The Guardian published a report revealing a huge disparity in school exclusions, between Black and Mixed-Race children compared to their white peers.

“Research by the Runnymede Trust has shown that exclusions have a detrimental impact on children, leaving them vulnerable to exploitation and with diminished life chances.

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"The report revealed that in Wokingham had the largest disparity in the country at 12.8 per cent meaning that black and mixed-race students at schools in the Borough are five times more likely to be excluded than white students.

“According to The Guardian, Wokingham Borough Council declined to comment on the report. What will the council do to ensure black and mixed-race children are treated fairly in our schools?”

The Guardian used statistics that date back to the 2018/2019 academic year.

A particularly disproportionate exclusion rate was reported between white British students and mixed-race white and Black Caribbean pupils. These mixed-race students had an exclusion rate of 12.8 per cent, compared to the exclusion rate of 2.4 per cent for white students. However, more white students were given fixed term exclusions than any other group.

Bracknell News:

Cllr Boyt’s question was answered Cllr Grahame Howe (CON), executive member for Children’s Services. He said: “To clarify the figures used by The Guardian were based on a national dataset detailing 445 White British pupils and 53 White and Black Caribbean pupils who had fixed exclusions from our schools in one year (2018/2019).

“Since 2018 we have seen a reduction in the proportion of fixed exclusions from these ethnic groups, and while this is the case, we are in no way complacent about this and will continue to monitor the figures so we can assess the impact of the steps we are taking and take further actions as necessary.

“We work closely with schools, staff and governors on racial equality issues, with specific actions and initiatives including:

- Examining potential personal and systemic racial bias with colleagues in

Children’s Services and our schools.

-The Council’s Learning and Achievement Partnership is working with a wide

range of stakeholders, including the Reading International Solidarity Centre

(RISC), to develop a Racial Equality action plan with schools.

- In reducing exclusions we are rolling out a Therapeutic Approach to behaviour

management in schools with significant commitment from schools in the

Borough to work in this way and reducing exclusions. This is a long-term

programme which will take account of equity and equality, and links with a

wider Pan-Berkshire approach on being Trauma Informed.

- Our Education Welfare service follows up on exclusions and have done much

positive support and prevention work with schools in recent years to support

reduction overall in exclusion rates. This continues to be an area of focus

going forward.

Officers are also looking broadly at inclusion for specific vulnerable

community groups.”

Below is a table of all the permanent and fixed term exclusions in Wokingham schools by ethnicity:

Bracknell News:

Cllr Boyt (LAB) asked her question at the Full Council meeting on Thursday, May 20. She represents Bulmershe & Whitegates. Cllr Howe (CON) represents Remenham, Wargrave and Ruscombe.